The 2023-24 season is in its very early stages and truth be told, championships and relegations have never been decided or defined in the first month of any League season.
For that matter, there is little to focus on as pointers to how the season will end come May next year. But in the same vein, it is not too hard to decipher which teams will have designs on the title. Events of the last seven days show that Vipers will in all likelihood be firm favourites to defend their Uganda Premier League title.
The Kitende-based club, winners of the League and Cup double last season, have reinforced their squad with two attackers who have swayed the title race in their favour. Allan Okello, the former AC Paradou midfielder, was unveiled by club owner Dr Lawrence Mulindwa last week in a move which had long-been foretold by insiders once the player’s exit from the Algerian side was confirmed.
Okello is still a long way from fitness, and is not expected to feature until the latter stages of the first round or the beginning of the second round. The Observer understands that Okello has a niggling injury that won’t allow him to feature in the club’s matches soon.
For Mulindwa, the acquisition of Okello is a major coup. The player honed his talent at rivals KCCA and his transfer to the Venoms has caused consternation at Lugogo where he won multiple individual and club accolades.
Arguably the bigger signing for Vipers in the last one week has been Eric Kambale, who has returned to Ugandan football having featured for Express a couple of seasons back. For long, Vipers evidently missed the mercurial play of their former forward Ceasar Lobi Manzoki who is now based in China.
By luring Kambale to Kitende, Vipers have gone a long way in filling that void. Kambale won the League title with Express and shouldn’t struggle to hit the ground running at Vipers.
The club’s coach Leonard Martins Neiva managed him at El Merrikh and will know how to incorporate him in his squad that possesses a plethora of options upfront. In addition to Yunus Sentamu and Milton Karisa, Neiva has Congolese youngster Rodriguez Shamamba, Nigerian Abubaker Lawal, Ghanaian Asiwome Fumador and Mauritanian Ahmed Salem Ekbad among his list of players to start in attacking positions.
Vipers, who have a 100 per cent record in the Uganda Premier League having started with wins against Gaddafi and Arua Hill, will return to action on Tuesday, October 3 when they travel to Kakyeka stadium to take on Mbarara City.